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Drinking and Driving

Features, Retrospectives

It’s Friday evening again, and as we’ve done so many hundreds — thousands? — of times before over the past 30 years, the Bearman and I are drinking together. He’s got rye and water, and I have my usual crappy Korean beer. We’re sitting on a cliff at the edge of the caldera high on top on an extinct volcano, looking down into the crater lake under clear blue skies, enjoying the view before we get back on the road. We’re talking about our wives and our jobs and whatever else comes to mind, as we always have, just shooting the shit and trying to figure stuff out. And failing, but the fun is in making the attempt. A storm front looks to be coming in from the east, so we decide to head west, around the rim of the caldera, and make for the ocean coast. We finish our drinks, fire up our engines, and go. It’ll probably take us a couple of hours to reach the seaside, but we have time, and we have booze. The new thing here, though, is that he’s on one side of the Pacific Ocean, and I’m on the other, and there are no drink-driving laws being broken. We’re Online Freeriding in FUEL.

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Games and Gaming, Retrospectives

I Asked And They Made It

About three years ago, I made a Modest Proposal.

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

I dreamed of a Minecraft where you had a tech tree that would allow you to slip the surly bonds of Voxelstan and roam off into space. Well, it seems like somebody went and (kinda) made it. How about that?

Picture of OUYA with One Controller
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OUYA Gotta be Kidding Me! – the winning edge of content curation and good playable demos

Games and Gaming, Hardware, Retrospectives, Reviews, Technology

Got my Kickstarter OUYA maybe a couple-three weeks ago and I have to say I am not impressed. Actually, I am impressed, but not about playing games on it. It looks nice. The design is pretty good. It’s tiny. Bigger than an Apple TV considering all dimensions (it’s taller) but I think its shelf footprint is smaller.

It’s small and cute and it uses dim white lights for status instead of bright green or red or blue like all the other blinky status LEDs in my now full-to-bursting entertainment cabinet that I wrote about earlier.

But what I’m not impressed by is the shoddy content curation. More about that below.
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Living First Person

Features, Games and Gaming, Retrospectives

It’s 1977. I’m 12 years old. It’s a gorgeous Northern BC summer day, one of those glorious fleeting perfect days that are all the sweeter in the frozen north, because the memories of mud and slush barely fade before the leaves have already begun to turn again. Utterly pure blue sky, sun warm on the skin, grass a deep impatient green, a light breeze off the lake that is so invigoratingly packed with oxygen and piney perfume it might as well be aerosolized cocaine. I’m playing third base, it’s what we’d call little league if we called it that in Canada back then, I’m just beginning to feel the awkwardness of adolescence, but the sheer pleasure of being alive and standing on that dirt under that gigantic bowl of sky on that day is more than enough to let me ignore my self-consciousness. I’m a big, strong kid, and even if I’m more bookworm than jock, I enjoy sports.

One of the kids on the other team strikes out, and our gang begins to jog back to the chickenwire fence behind home plate for our time at bat, where there are a few parents hanging out, maybe drinking a beer or three in the sun. I get about three or four loping steps along the baseline before my left leg folds up, with no warning whatsoever, and I go down into the dirt. I try like hell to get up, but my leg just doesn’t seem to want to bend correctly. I don’t remember it hurting as much as I remember being confused, trying to figure out why my leg suddenly didn’t do what I told it to do any more, and then horrified and embarrassed, when my stepdad came out onto the diamond, picked me up, and carried me off.

Turns out that I had Osgood-Schlatter syndrome. I was just growing too damned fast, apparently, and bits and pieces of me couldn’t keep up. The dumbass semicompetent smalltown doctor told us that I’d have to have the left leg put in an ankle to hip cast for six months, and then the other leg — once again, ankle to hip — for another six months after that.

That was pretty much the end of sports for me, at least team sports. That was the beginning — after that long, itchy year, when my first my left and then my right leg emerged, atrophied, pale, and, to my horror, looking like a limb grafted on from a much smaller, sicklier young man — of my lifelong habit of riding bikes with my headphones on down empty highways. And that summer, when the doorway to baseball and swimming and many other things I loved closed, at least temporarily, that the door into computers and the games you can play on them opened. When I learned that it was possible to go places without actually going anywhere. That was the summer my parents bought me my first computer, a TRS-80 Model III.

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Easily Distracted Edition (08.04.11)

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

We’re back from vacation this week, and as a consequence, we’re a little…loopy, and not just from our customary alcoholic beverages. Many tangents are had, odd routes followed, and a higher-than-average amount of movie references made, especially for an episode where so much actual news is imparted. Defense of the Ancients 2 will be revealed to the world at Gamescom in Cologne, the Humble Indie Bundle 3 is here, Australia makes serious steps towards an R18+ rating, and everyone decided to be stupid while we were gone, with Blizzard basically sticking a knife into the heart of their fanbase for Diablo 3, Ubisoft returning to always-on DRM for Driver: San Francisco and more, EA getting Dragon Age 2 pulled from Steam with their “me-first-gimmie-gimmie” approach to DLC, and Nintendo almost halves the price of the 3DS in an attempt to get people to buy their newest shiny toy. Please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 35 (08/04/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Tranquility Edition (07.18.11)

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

We’re still a little tuckered out after last week’s rage-fueled barreling beast of a podcast, so this week, we decided that there wouldn’t be anything important announced. A fearful gaming industry obliged, and so we present to you a much more low-key, some would almost say sedate podcast. We do follow-up on the horrible, awful things that induced such anger last week (but in a much more calm and relaxed manner), Manhunt 2 goes not exactly into the West, but wherever awful exploitation games go, Planetside 2 becomes more interesting as a possible free-to-play game, EA buys Popcap Games, a cool bit of news about the upcoming Halo: Combat Evolved re-release, we mock poorly written product announcements, and the crew behind The Escapist’s Extra Credits series decide to do something awesome with the enormous pile of money they suddenly find themselves sitting on. Thank you, and please, Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 34 (07/18/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Bad Words Edition (07.07.11)

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

I, personally, choose to believe that we are all capable of being decent human beings at any time, and that corporations which are smart enough to make a serious impact on the world around us are also smart enough to not intentionally sabotage their own efforts, products, or customers. I also realize that people are jerks to each other for little or no reason a lot of the time, and that corporations can and will choose short-term gains over long-term profits and security almost every single time. You can imagine what this does to my temperament, something which is on full display in this week’s podcast, as last week’s relatively bad news free status is drastically reversed.

Some good news does make it under the wire, Crysis is coming to consoles, CCP decides that screwing their Eve Online customers isn’t such a good idea, the Extra Credits drive to help their artist keep making art was a success beyond their wildest expectations, and I have new hope for a good video game movie as details for a Mass Effect film surface with a pretty decent writer and production company attached to the project. On the bad news front, Team Fortress 2 players are determined to show new players on the free-to-play accounts that they’re not welcome around these parts, and EA continues their charge to be more hated than Activision. Please, put the little ones in the other room and then Share and Enjoy.

LOD Podcast Episode 33 (07/07/11)

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Building Game Communities

Features, Games and Gaming, Retrospectives

It seems like game developers and publishers tend to take a few different strategies with how they release and support their games. This can be for any number of reasons, like meeting a release date, reaching specific sales numbers, and experimenting with sales models. Let’s take a look at what works and what doesn’t.

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: This Could Be Bad Edition (04.29.11)

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

So, there was a thing! PSN got hacked and now we’ve all been sold wholesale to Estonian hackers to work in their gold farms or whatever. Also, Nintendo confirmed that the Wii 2 is actually a thing, which conveniently distracted everyone from the massive hit their year-over-year earnings took. We take a solid half-hour to kick both Sony and Nintendo while they’re down, but we also have other news! In the afterglow of the Portal 2 release, Valve gives us some more information about their upcoming projects, we have more Minecraft news, LA Noire lets us know where its true allegiances lie, and an ancient conspiracy declares war on gaming. Please, listen, share and enjoy, and email us at LODpodcast@LevelsOfDetail.com.

LOD Podcast Episode 26 (04/29/11)

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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Digging Ever Deeper Edition

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

Hello! We have another show for you today, as is our wont. As the gaming industry has seen fit to try to starve poor us out of a podcast (starve, I say!), we have had to search long, hard and deep for today’s news. But we have triumphed! The fruits of our labor include Minecraft finally getting a strange new feature called a “release date”, the Navy has a new game for all you sub sim fans out there, we ruminate on an anniversary most ignominious, the Sesame Street game seems to be angling to resurrect your childhood and make you cry in a most awesome way, and then, starved for content, we talk about cars and semi-random gaming news for the remaining 10 minutes. Interesting! Illuminating! Entertaining, even (we hope)! All this and more in this week’s episode of the Levels Of Detail Podcast. Please, share and enjoy, and talk back at us at LODpodcast@LevelsOfDetail.com.

LOD Podcast Episode 24 (04/10/11)
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Levels Of Detail Podcast: Feels Like the First Time Edition (03.23.11)

Games and Gaming, News, Retrospectives

Hey, remember us? After finally escaping from the bottoms of our respective schedules, Ben and I have returned with a brand new episode of the Levels Of Detail Podcast! We talk at length about Valve, Portal 2 and the awesome things that happen inside that Pacific Northwest house of wonders, maybe rag on NPD, Ubisoft and game reviewers a fair bit, but really, you can think of this episode as making up for lost time. More rants! More bashing! More love! More gushing! More beer nerdery! More time than we’re supposed to take! All of that and more awaits you in the second triumphant return of the Levels Of Detail Podcast! Please, share and enjoy, and talk back at us at LODpodcast@LevelsOfDetail.com.

LOD Podcast Episode 22 (03/23/11)

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How To Play Quake 1 Like It’s 2011 (not 1999)

Features, Games and Gaming, Retrospectives

Seeing this recent post on RPS got me in the mood to do some singleplayer QuakeOneing. Just thinking about it gave me a shiver of anticipation, and I could hear the shotgun pow-tch-chk, the hiss and growl and roar and the clank-wobbleboom of grenades. That was it: the itch needed scratching. As soon as I got home from work, I got to re-installing.

But if you’re anything like me, you like a little modern gloss on the old warwagon. Leave the gameplay mechanics alone, but the shiny? I like the shiny!
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May the Mods be With You, a List of Star Wars Mods (Part 3)

Features, Games and Gaming, Retrospectives

In parts one and two we covered FPS and RTS Star Wars mods, respectively. Now it’s time for us to turn our attention to anything that doesn’t fit in those first two categories. There turns out to be not that much. Most games with modding tools are for those first two genres. Luckily, it turns out I missed a few mods in the first two parts, so I’ll include those here as well. Continue reading